Saturday, December 1, 2012

Technology's Promise: Mass Customization

Technology's Promise: Mass Customization

I have to agree with Halal’s prediction for mass customization. Mass customization refers to industries taking personalized order requests from their consumers. Apple has done a great job of this.  Apple allows consumers to order their products such as ipods and ipads and they allow the consumers to have their purchased items personalized with engraving and other things prior to the items being shipped. Since starting the engraving option, more and more consumers have opted to purchase their apple products online from the apple store instead of other retailers like Best Buy. This simple option of engraving gives the consumer the feeling of their mass produced ipod or ipad is different then everyone else’s because their name or favorite saying has been engraved on the back of the item.  This allows consumers the ability to identify their mass produced item from their friends, neighbors and family members.

As mass customization grows, I think it is going to influence people to be individuals again. and are two blooming websites that encourage mass customization. These sites assign personal shoppers to the consumer and assist them with finding shoes that meet their exact likes and specifications. The ultimate goal is for women to be able to have their own custom shoes so they can express their individual styles.

I recently had a first hand experience with mass customization.  Two weeks ago I purchased a new SUV. I had been shopping around for a while trying to find the SUV that I wanted that met my price requirements along with the options I wanted. Well, it took me about 3 months to finally find what I wanted without having to custom build my SUV.  Well the night I bought it and brought it home my boyfriend immediately let me know that he would be taking it over and I needed to find myself a new one. So the process of finding a new vehicle started all over again. I contacted the dealership and let them know I wanted the same vehicle as the one I purchased but in red. The significance of the red was because red is my favorite color and the original SUV I purchased was black which is my second favorite color. But since my boyfriend was going to be taking over that car, I wanted the same car in my favorite color. Well we were unable to find the exact SUV in red so we had to order it. By ordering it I was able to customize the vehicle to my exact specifications and requirements. As simple as this sounds, it gives me the feeling of my SUV being mine and being different then the original one I purchased that's now being taken over by my boyfriend. Mass customization is the start of individualization again, at least in my opinion.


Halal, W. (2008). Technology’s Promise: expert knowledge on the transformation of business and society. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan

Futurist Prediction: From Smart House to Networked Home

This blog is analysis of the following article:
From Smart House to Networked Home
WFS Home › The Futurist › July-August 2012, Vol. 46, No. 4 › 

By Chris Carbone and Kristin Nauth

Article Analysis:

This prediction pertains to how technology can effect the future of smart homes. This article discusses 10 technology trajectories and their effects on a future smart home. The 10 trajectories are: adaptive environments, cloud intelligence, collaboration economy, contextual reality, cutting the cable, information fusion, interface anywhere, any way, manufacturing 3.0, personal analytics and socially networked stuff (Carbone & Nauth, 2012). The article also discusses the five social drivers and influences for technological advancements. The five described in this article are the maturing of the digital natives, shifting demography, digital DIY, new family dynamics, and constrained family finances. For the sake of this assignment I will discuss cloud intelligence and personal analytics and their effects on the future of smart homes and shifting demography and constrained family finances as drivers and influences that could effect the two mentioned trajectories for smart homes.

The author of this article when he speaks of cloud intelligence and its future effects on smart homes, is referring to the fact that the cloud as we know it will evolve from being the static repository of data into an active resource that people rely on throughout their daily lives (Carbone & Nauth, 2012). In the smart home, the home as well as the cloud will become more adaptive. This adaptation could allow for kitchen appliances to be able to design weekly menus for a family based on the family's health profile, fitness goals and eating preferences. Then the added bonus would be the same appliance actually ordering the ingredients the family needs.

The personal analytics aspect of the smart home directly correlates with the predicted change to cloud intelligence. The personal analytics refers to the idea of data analytics increasing as a consumer tool similar to that of a business tool (Carbone & Nauth, 2012). The premise is that the kitchen appliance mentioned above or a sensor located at the front door could read the body language of the person entering the home and could then determine the person's mood. The sensor/application or kitchen appliance could then determine what should be prepared for dinner, or change the lighting in the room to fit the person's mood. The same appliance could have a glass of wine or a cold beer on the counter for the person as soon as they walk into the kitchen.

In theory both mentioned scenarios for the direction of the smart home seem to be pretty reasonable based on the technological advancements we have seen over the past 10 years. However with all progression there are things that limit and/or negatively effect the progression levels. In this particular case, shifting demography and constrained family finances would be the two biggest forces to negatively effect this progression. Shifting demography has already effected technological advances in that the picture of the family has changed.  People are marrying later in life and therefore they have having children later. As a result the size of the average family is shrinking (Carbone & Nauth, 2012). With these change in demography families are no longer communicating face to face, most communication is being conducted via smart phones, social media and via tablets. Which means the need for family togetherness time has depleted. With the new smart home computing family related information, it would need the family present to have accurate information.

In order for a family to be able to have a smart home with the features mentioned earlier the family would have to be able to afford the home, hence the constrained family finances. Although the thought of technological advancements in the home sounds very appealing, families would have to be able to afford such features. In other words these advances are not a necessity. The cost of building such products will be high which means the cost to consumers will be even higher. One could see a two-tier market emerge in which well-off families adopt smart-homes technology while less-well-off households stick to twentieth-century-style home systems (Carbone & Nauth, 2012).

Carbone, C. & Nauth, K. (2012). The Futurist, From smart house to networked home. 46(4). Retrieved November 22, 2012 from: